Safe and appropriate health care, especially in urgent or emergency situations, is the expectation of the public throughout the developed world. Achieving this goal requires appropriate levels of medical and other staff, appropriate training, and sensible working hours. Too often the brunt of such care, especially in out-of-hours situations, is borne by medical residents, who--to make matters worse--are frequently poorly supervised by more senior and experienced staff. Many jurisdictions have been alerted to this problem and are striving to correct it. However, the variation in attempts to restrict the actual hours worked by residents to "safe" levels is enormous, and all too often there is no consensus as to what should be put in place to achieve safe patient care. This paper sets out the current position for Europe, North America, and Australia.